Family barristers have expressed dismay and concern about the decline in the number of applications for child protection orders made by local authorities following a 2,500% increase in court fees. The profession awaits the outcome of an application for judicial review made by four councils this summer concerning this increase. Family barristers are also deeply concerned by recent proposals from the Ministry of Justice which would cut £12m from the budget for family cases. The profession is urging Minister of State Lord Hunt to ensure that high quality representation remains available to all, not just to those who can afford it. The profession is actively engaged in implementing Lord Neuberger’s 2007 recommendations to improve diversity in the profession. It is working on ensuring that women remain in the profession in the equal numbers to which now join it. Finally the profession is delighted to welcome the appointment today of Lord Judge as the new Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.

Tim Dutton QC said:
“2008 has been a busy and challenging year so far. The changes which are occurring to the economy will require lawyers to respond to  ncreasing concerns from clients on all fronts be they regulatory, commercial or in family matters. The need for access to justice for the less well off in society is likely to increase as jobs are lost and families are affected by the economic downturn. These are challenging times. As a profession we are continuing to take great steps to improve access and diversity. We are doing so at a time when many members of the publicly funded and young Bar are under increasing pressure. The representation of many of the most vulnerable members of society is a matter of concern as public funding for legal representation is under pressure.”